On fields and courts around Howard County this fall, outside the bright lights of packed stadiums and gyms, junior varsity athletes once again laid the foundation for the future of their respective programs.
Lessons and skills were learned, bonds were created, and the varsity stars of tomorrow were born. And, while the fanfare and recognition may not always be there, the significance of the journey should not be underestimated.
In an effort to give these teams and individuals a deserved moment in the spotlight, we reached out to each school through their athletic administration to find out about some of the highlights and top performers from the fall season. Here's what we heard back:
Glenelg mirrored the varsity team and finished the regular season with a record of 8-2.
The Gladiators averaged 24 points per game while allowing 10 and had several memorable moments, including late scoring drives to beat Hammond and Reservoir.
"The team worked really hard all year long to get better each and every week," said Glenelg coach Joseph Derwent.
Like the varsity squad, Howard had one of the top JV teams in the county and finished with a 9-1 record and closed the year on a nine-game winning streak.
Sophomore running back DaQuan Woodson led the Lions with 851 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, while sophomore defensive end John McGuire was their best defender and finished the season with 31 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble.
"This season the JV team was very well rounded and everyone worked well together," said Howard coach David Klotz. "It was a fun group of guys that came together as a family and looked to improve week in and week out."
After going 10-1 last season, Long Reach saw its former JV players have a huge role for the varsity team that went 8-2 during the regular season. However, this fall's JV squad struggled a bit and finished with a 2-8 record.
Despite the record, the Lightning had three losses by eight points or less and had several big moments along the way. Jordan Perry had a 44-yard touchdown reception, an 81-yard kickoff return for a score and an interception in Long Reach's 28-6 win over Mt. Hebron to start the season. In a game against Centennial, Elijah Saunders put the game away with a 50-yard touchdown run.
Tommy Hall was one of the top players for the Lightning and finished the season averaging 10 yards per carry, Malik Chester and Justin Staruk tallied 53 and 48 tackles, respectively, and Ryan Cannon was "a dominating force" on both the offensive and defensive line, according to coach Dustin Zelik.
Justin Massengill led the team with five sacks and Eric Palmer had a team-high five interceptions.
"The Lightning learned to fight through adversity and compete at a high level while becoming a family," Zelik said.
Mt. Hebron was a young team that coach Mike McCarthy said showed tremendous improvement throughout the season.
Quarterback Finn Devine led the way with more than 500 passing yards and six touchdowns, while sophomore running back Garry Morris finished the year with five touchdowns, 450 rushing yards and 225 yards receiving.
Defensively, linebacker Travis Benson, defensive lineman Scott Leimbach and Xavier Eatmon were the team leaders.
"Mt. Hebron has a strong foundation to be a very good football team in the future if the players stay committed to each other and the program," McCarthy said.
River Hill had its best season since 2011 and finished with a record of 8-2.
The Hawks were led offensively by running back Melvin Brown, who ran for more than 80 yards per game. The defense, meanwhile, had three shutouts on the year and allowed an average of eight points per game in the team's eight wins.
"Captain Robby Windsor dominated, throwing touchdowns and key passes all through the season," said River Hill coach Jay Hull. "Freshman Christian Bond, second string quarterback, had his first start in a 27-16 victory over Mt. Hebron, and Keegan Remick also played at the quarterback position this year."
Hull also credited the offensive and defensive lines as keys to their successful season.
"While appearing to lose focus in a couple of games, they stuck together and powered through the season," he said. "Coaches always say a team starts with the [offensive line] and can't exist without one, and this offensive line proved their worth both on the field and off the field."
Wilde Lake got off to a slow start but finished the season by winning five of its last six games to end the year with a 5-4-1 record. The Wildecats were one of the most dominant teams during their final stretch, outscoring opponents 126 to 56 during that span.
Freshmen Kyjuan Adams, Jarrett Monah and DJ Jackson and sophomores Nate Hicks, Vincent Thomas and Michael James were Wilde Lake's top performers.
Adams did a little bit of everything and ended the year with 119 yards passing, 227 rushing yards, 319 yards receiving and 183 return yards while also leading the team with 70 tackles. Before being called up to the varsity team in Week 9, Monah registered 50 tackles, a sack and a 50-yard kick return for a touchdown.
Jackson had six total touchdowns, including four receiving to go with 279 yards on offense and five interceptions and 14 passes defended on defense. Hicks, a quarterback, threw for 621 yards and seven touchdowns and ran for 425 yards and four scores in just eight games.
Thomas and James were starters last season and were "the emotional leaders of the team and the glue that kept us together through the entire season," said Wildecats coach Tom Abel.
Centennial finished the year with a 7-10-2 record but picked up its play in the final weeks of the season.
"With a relatively new group to the sport, the preseason and first competitions were learning experiences for this young and hungry group of girls," said Eagles coach Bill Shook.
Some of their big wins came against Arundel in three sets and finishing the Huntingtown tournament with a 2-1-2 record.
Chandler Worthy and Abby Jackson were Centennial's top attackers and blockers, while Janie Kuzman and Yi Su Arief were the best defenders. Sarah Allen led the squad serving at a 91 percent clip with 53 aces and Jackson also had a high percentage and 54 aces.
Chapelgate had a solid season and finished league play with a 7-4 record and went 8-6 overall.
Several players were instrumental to the Yellowjackets' success. Briana Garrett was the team leader, while freshman setter Gabby Little and freshman outside hitter Joi Thornton also had a great season.
"Sophomore and team captain Briana Garrett was instrumental in providing the necessary leadership to a team where skill levels varied," said Chapelgate coach Michell D'Ascenzo.
Freshman defensive specialist Lexy Ridgely was the Yellowjackets' top defender and one of their best passers. Cece Taylor, Trinitee Tatum and Little were the team's best servers.
Glenelg had one of the best teams in the league and finished with a record of 11-3 overall.
The Gladiators' best moment came against Howard, when they trailed by seven in the opening set but came back to win the game and eventually swept the Lions in two sets. It was Howard's only county defeat of the season.
"Freshman libero Lydia Stricker was our best passer and one of our best servers," said Gladiators coach Jennifer Dixon. "Taylor Currie was one of our captains and a leader on the court."
In just its second year with a JV program, Glenelg Country finished the season 1-9 but played its best game of the year when it mattered most. The Dragons, seeded fourth out of four teams in the IAAM C Conference postseason tournament, knocked off top-seeded Friends School in two sets to advance to the finals.
"That day it all came together," said Glenelg Country coach David Kelley.
The strength of the Dragons was at the net. Sydni Williams (23 kills), Kaelyn Gloyd (10 kills) and Tasnim Rushdan (eight kills) excelled at both hitting and blocking, and Melissa Jacob (15 assists) and Olivia Suazo (11 assists) did well to set the offense. Junior Cindy Meng (14 kills, 38 service aces) was solid at the service line and was moved to varsity for the playoffs in November.
Tiffany Wu, April Merdon and Alexa Suazo led the Dragons defensively.
Hammond finished the season 3-11 overall with two county wins but had several exciting matches.
The Golden Bears' MVP was Saqqara Andrews, who coach Kasey Quinn said was a force at the net and a consistent presence behind the service line. Sophomore captain Kara McNab was a key at the setter position and freshman Grace Hartley led the team to a big win over Oakland Mills with several clutch serves.
Hammond had a tight three-set win over Long Reach for its first county win and also swept Glen Burnie.
"I'm tremendously proud of the overall growth made by the JV team in such a short span of time," said Golden Bears coach Kasey Quinn. "Each and every player improved her skills and game knowledge exponentially, and although our record may not demonstrate it, they regularly met their team and individual goals."
Howard matched the varsity team and finished a great season with a 10-1 county record and 13-2 overall record.
Sophomore outside hitters Ava Fredrickson and Amanda Paganini, sophomore middle hitter Chineyne Iloanya and sophomore right-side hitter Mia Foelster all had at least 20 kills. Sophomore setter Kallie Burdett led the team in assists and sophomore libero Kelly Seibert led the team in digs.
"This season the JV team was very well rounded and everyone worked well together," said Lions coach Allison Ose. "It was a fun group of girls that developed great court chemistry and ran offensive plays."
Mt. Hebron was one of the top teams in the county this fall and finished the year with a 14-2 overall record.
One of the Vikings most memorable moments came in their final match of the season against River Hill. They were able to get key aces from Alison Carroll and Maddie Ho, crucial digs from Lara Szabo-Banicz and Ria Kapoor and timely kills from hitters Julia Tallent, Lizzy Davis and Lana Shahine.
Davis led the team with 34 kills and 18 blocks, but Shahine and Tallent also had at least 28 kills apiece. Setters Heather Chen and Sam Giles spread the ball around well, finishing with 61 and 74 assists, respectively. Giles also finished the season with a team-high 37 aces.
The freshmen team also had a successful season and finished the year with a 9-1-1 record in county play.
Under first-year coach and former Reservoir star Julie Poston, the Gators went 5-9 in county play but won all four of its non-league games to go 9-9 overall.
"Our record doesn't show it, but we made a lot of progress," Poston said.
Some of the team's highlights were their three-set match against Centennial in which everyone on the roster stepped up. Down by five points in the third set, the Gators tied the match with key serves, though they ultimately came up a little bit short.
"Throughout the season you could just see the improvement from every girl and as a whole team," Poston said.
Despite having five freshmen who had never played the sport before, Wilde Lake went 8-6 and showed improvement every match.
Captain and setter Anna Brown was the Wildecats' emotional leader and captain Valerie Battista was their key outside hitter and had one of the best serves. Freshmen Kalani Corkerson and Aenilah Watkins helped the team offensively with big kills and blocks.
Some of the their highlights were beating Centennial and Reservoir in close matches that were decided late in the third set. Tianna Barnes had three consecutive aces to close out Wilde Lake's win over the Gators.
Centennial worked hard this season at practice to strengthen its passing, movement off the ball and shooting, which helped the team finish with an 8-2-2 record. The Eagles outscored opponents 37-8 with 15 different players finding the back of the net. Goalkeepers Claudia Haupt and Hibah Khan split time in net and only allowed one opponent to score more than one goal and combined for six shutouts. Their stout defense was led by sophomore Natalie Payer, while the aggressive play of freshmen Hannah Souba, Sara Toth and Piper Berry on the back line also contributed to the limited number of chances given up this season.
Freshman Maddie Carr returned from an early season injury to be a vital part of Centennial's midfield, as her ability to control the ball, switch fields and send balls over to forwards helped create numerous offensive opportunities. Freshmen Sarah Sopchick (six goals) and Ere Oh (seven goals) led the team offensively.
Each returning sophomore was an integral part of the Hammond girls soccer team this season, helping the younger players mature and play a more skilled game. Victoria Van der Putten stood out as an overall solid player, as she moved all over the field at striker, midfield and even in goal, where she helped the Golden Bears clinch their first tie versus Reservoir. Leah Fasig was injured toward the end of the season, but was solid in net for the first half of the year and also was a strong support defensively. Carolyn Neuman contributed all over the field as well. Nya Stevens returned after a season-ending injury derailed her 2015 campaign and played a role offensively at both forward and midfield positions. Ellen Hagerty had a consistent impact in the midfield all season long. Amanda Russel and Kassidy Gatz were relied upon heavily on defense and in the midfield. They finished with a 2-11-1 record.
Glenelg was led by their strong offensive attack this season, outscoring opponents 40-18 to finish with a record of 6-5-1.
Freshman Carmela D'Antuono was a playmaker for the Gladiators at the center midfield position and set up many scoring opportunities. Sophomore captains Kylie Haynie and Lucy Loazer were both key factors on and off the field for Glenelg, with their strong play and great leadership skills. Liz Stiller, Megan Writt and Valerie Markel were also huge keys offensively, scoring the majority of the team's goals, while Maddy Rothfield and Claire Brinster were standouts defensively.
"We were on both sides of the ball," said Glenelg coach Sarah Floyd. "We had two very strong keepers and a well anchored defense as well as a solid offense with a knack for scoring goals."
A highlight of the season for the Gladiators was a dominating 3-0 win against Reservoir. According to Floyd, it was the best team performance of the season.
"I think this team's best attribute was their great attitude and willingness to work hard," Floyd said. "They pushed each other every practice and never gave up in games. They all had each other's back and that is so important in team sports. It was a great thing to be a part of, especially as a first-time coach."
Goalie Grace Pacylowski led Glenelg Country School and despite the Dragons final 0-7 record, Pacylowski remained positive, encouraged her teammates and played well throughout the year. Erica Poulis was the leader offensively, as she was active on set plays and penalty kicks.
"The team this season showed significant growth," said Glenelg Country coach Tira Valkanas. "We were able to build an attack and threaten the goal by the end of the season."
Depth helped Howard finish the year 7-3-1 in the county and 7-4-1 overall. Its strong bench aided its starting 11 each outing, as every girl on the roster made a significant contribution.
Team captains Justine Hurst (center back/stopper), Natalie Snow (center midfield), Jenna Pasternak (midfield) and Sara Elchynski (midfield/striker) led the Lions both on and off the field.
"They always worked their hardest during games and always used encouraging words to keep the team balanced," said Howard coach Laine Angle. "And they made sure to still have fun."
Maya Rawlings, Ava Lamberty and Kyra Brewer led the Lions with six goals apiece, while Elise Lumsden (three), Natalie Snow (three), Maddy Coyle (two), Jenna Meek (two), Morgan Cooper (two), Julia Hagen (two), Meera Potter (one), Emma Filler (one), Elise Young (one) and Sara Elchynski (one) all found the back of the net as well.
A turning point in Howard's season came after a 6-0 loss to Mt. Hebron. The following day the captains took command and refocused the team and ultimately the team raised its play down the stretch.
Another tough loss was against Centennial, where the Lions ultimately fell 1-0 after Howard scored on a deflected penalty kick with 40 seconds remaining. Goalie Sydney Parham played well in the game, as the freshman saved a penalty kick after a handball in the box. After the loss, the Lions again came together and encouraged one another, which continued on for the remainder of the year.
Despite dealing with injuries throughout the season Marriotts Ridge had a terrific year and posted an overall record of 9-1-1.
"Our girls will remember this season because they really enjoyed playing and learning the game," said Mustangs coach Kristine Mumby.
Mt. Hebron finished with an unbeaten record of 11-0-1 and posted eight shutouts throughout the year.
The Vikings featured a roster of 11 sophomores and 11 freshmen, which produced a balanced attack that saw 20 of 22 players register a point and 18 different players score a goal. Ten different players scored multiple goals, including team leaders Mia Flack (13 goals), Liv Poirier (nine), Allison Brown (six) and Paige Sine (six). Sophomores Caitlin Madden, Maura Devine and Maddy Wyscarver were also vital to the Vikings attack.
Lexi Croft led the team with seven assists, while team co-MVP's Julia Noppenberger and Maddie Hammond each had six assists. Both Noppenberger and Hammond played a huge role controlling the midfield and were joined by Julia Rodriguez, Blaire Ridgely, Sunny Kang and CeCe Broccolino, who dropped back often to help support the defense but were also quick to counter in the attack.
The defense was anchored by freshmen goalkeepers Ainsley Sowers and Marika Tavai. They combined to allow four goals in 12 games. Defensive backs Aly Coakley and Anna Hofmann played a crucial role in Mt. Hebron's stellar defense and were aided by outside backs Mere Williams, Natalie Lewis, Nia Bryant and Anna Boyer, who also spent time in the midfield.
"Our complete team effort," Vikings coach Bob Gibbons said of the highlight of the year. "We defended together, possessed the ball throughout the field, attacked aggressively and finished many of our opportunities."
Reservoir battled through tight contests all season and ultimately finished the year 2-2-6. The Gators played three overtime games, while one of their contests was a heartbreaking loss to Howard.
Captains Jessica Chapman, Riley Geraghty and Annabelle Salkeld were the leaders for the Gators. Chapman was a long-throw threat and also played every position on the field. Geraghty was solid in net for Reservoir, while Salkeld held down the defense at the center back position. Both Geraghty and Salkeld went through injuries that kept them out of numerous games throughout the year, and at one time the Gators had six players sidelined due to injury. Despite the shortened roster, Reservoir came together and competed in every game down the stretch.
"I am most proud of how well the team came together despite being down in numbers and responded so competitively," said Gators coach Wendell Thomas.
Along with their three captains, Reservoir also named eight honorary captains — Trinity Yang, Grace Lee, Emily Sabillon, Madison Chisholm, Sarah Ricketts, Yelena Schmidt, Leslie Saenz and Allison Alston — who showed some outstanding play throughout the year.
Yang led the team in scoring, while Saenz emerged as the Gators most improved player and one of their best defensive backs.
Led by captains Kat Spurrier, Suwi Muwowo and Madison Dzubak, River Hill finished the regular season with an unbeaten county record of 7-0-3. The Hawks overcame early losses of Spurrier, Muwowo and Nicole Regan to injury early in the year, but they embraced a 'next girl up' mentality, according to coach Andrew Matsunaga, and took its teamwork to the next level.
The Hawks had 14 different goal scorers but sophomore Mariah Campbell led the team with 12 goals. Dzubak led the team with four assists on the year and the freshman captain was also part of several big goals throughout the year. She assisted a game-winner to freshman Melissa Chen in the final seconds of regulation to push the Hawks past Centennial.
Goalkeepers Muwowo (21 saves, 5-0-1) and freshman Sage Christianson (14 saves, 3-0-1) combined for six shutouts. With help from defenders Regan, Katie Kitzinger, Molly Kurdle and Ariela Reid, they allowed just three goals against all season.
Wilde Lake finished the year with a 3-7-2 mark and in all three wins its defense posted shutouts (2-0, 6-0, 9-0). Kaitlyn Vong led the Wildecats with seven goals, including a hat trick in one game. Jasmyn Hopkins starred in net, blocking three penalty kicks in one game and improved her confidence tremendously coming off her line.
"We celebrated a game with six different goal scorers, including our regular goalie, and we had several students who speak Spanish, so our team learned words and phrases in multiple languages," said Wilde Lake coach Kristyn Neubauer of her team's season highlights. "We also went on endurance runs on Fridays in the community and sang most of the way."
Despite several new faces and new players to the sport this season, the Centennial field hockey team came together to post a 6-5 overall record and finish the season over .500 for the fourth straight year. Offensively the team was led by freshmen Kristen Parisi, Eliza Andrew and sophomores Marta Pochop and Abby Doff. Sara Ferrara was the catalyst in the midfield for the Eagles, helping transition the ball and set up most of their goals, with help from Emily Klomparens.
Most of Centennial's experience was on defense, but was played by freshmen Genevieve Lee, Natalie Knight-Griffen and Noni Grimes, while Casey Stratton and Lacey Gelfand split time in goal. Stratton hit her stride toward the end of the year, keeping the opposition to low scoring totals and making some outstanding stops down the stretch.
The highlight of the season was a 1-0 victory over Mt. Hebron. Abby Doff scored the go-ahead goal in the second half, while Stratton played one of her best games, posting double-digit saves to complete the shutout.
"It was truly a team effort," said Eagles coach Katie Grimm. "The girls had worked so hard to become tough opponents against top-tier teams like Mt. Hebron, and they showed out in the game. This team was something special."
The Glenelg field hockey team only lost one game this season, 2-1 in overtime to Broadneck. Other than that defeat the Gladiators went on and won every other game, finishing with a 12-1 overall record and 7-0 in the county.
Their leaders on the forward line included Mallory Jubb (seven goals), Tess Muneses (eight) and Courtney Baehr (nine). Glenelg totaled 60 goals this season and only allowed two.
Captain Emma LeTellier was the Gladiators' leading scorer with 14 goals with her biggest score coming against Marriotts Ridge in a 1-0 win.
Captain Mckenna Rueter was the leader defensively, playing in the center of the Glenelg defense.
"She not only led by her play but also her voice on the field," said Gladiators coach Courtney Abell. "She had strong vision and direction, making a handful of defensive saves."
Sarah Cipolla was a key two-way player on the midfield line. She held the center mid position for the Gladiators, and along with many defensive stops, she also helped offensively with her skill and intensity, especially in front of goal.
The highlight of the season for the Gladiators was a huge win over Severna Park. Muneses broke through the Falcons defense and assisted LeTellier, who lifted a shot up in to the left corner of the cage to give Glenelg a 1-0 lead. The goal raised the intensity and ignited the team, which resulted in another quick score soon after. Jubb and Baehr followed up with two more goals for the Gladiators.
Despite 10 players on the roster, Glenelg Country School had a solid season. The Dragons played most of their games with only six field players and a goalie. Erica Adamson ended the year with 45 saves. Freshman Maddy Sessay led the team offensively with five goals, one of which was a fantastic score where she dribbled 50 yards before putting away the goal. Captains Amy Akinrebiyo, Hailey Griffin and Kara Clemons recorded two and one goal, respectively. The Dragons defense was anchored by Megan Mendez, who also came up with three defensive saves during the year, and Faythe Cooper.
Hammond ended the season with a 2-9 record. Brenda Merino, Morgan Yeckerley, Sydney Phillips and Kim Taylor led the Golden Bears offensively.
"They stand out because of their hustle and their never-say-die attitude and always giving it their all," said Hammond coach Maria Ferraro.
Rachita Singh and Carina Thorton-Celesna were two defensive leaders, as they were committed to stop the drive and did well clearing the ball from the Golden Bears side of the field.
"Often we had low scoring games because of their hard work," said Ferraro.
First-year goalies Taylor Johnson and Abigail Richards had strong campaigns. Despite not having any experience in net, Johnson and Richards rose to the occasion and played well throughout the year.
Alexis Kujawa was Hammond's most improved player, as the freshman became an asset defensively with her aggressive play on that end.
Yeckerly, Taylor, Luz Angelica Serna and Singh captained the team and were crucial in the development of the Golden Bears throughout the season.
The biggest highlight of the season was Hammond's first win of the year against Glen Burnie.
Howard finished the year with a solid 7-2-2 overall record and combined for eight shutouts and only six goals against. Season highlights include 2-0 wins over the Mt. Hebron and Atholton.
Ashlyn Monihan (six goals, four assists), Maeve Dunnigan (six goals, four assists), Shea O'Connor (two goals, seven assists), Vivian Williams (four goals, one assist), Kaitlin Rice (three goals, three assists) and Katie Sloan (two goals, two assist) led the Lions offensively, while Lindsey Cowan and Karter Hyden were the catalysts defensively. Skylar Wishner recorded 46 saves in net for Howard.
"This year we had a very fulfilling and enjoyable season with lots of depth and growth across the field," said Lions coach Samantha Earle. "With only four returning players from our team last year, the girls exhibited lots of hard work, great teamwork, camaraderie and passion for the sport."
A solid season for the Long Reach field hockey team ended with a 6-3 record. There was tremendous individual growth for numerous players who haven't played the sport until this season.
The Lightning started the year with an impressive 8-0 win over Glen Burnie, which according to coach Amanda Durso "set the tone" for the rest of the season. Long Reach lost to River Hill but it was a tight matchup.
"Well fought game and I was so proud of my girls for working their hardest up until the last second," Durso said. "Throughout the season I always stressed to my girls that even through we might not always be the best team on the field, we will always be the team playing with the most heart and working our hardest to win. I can confidently say that my girls did just [that] this season, and I could not be more proud of them."
Other wins came against North County, Southern, Hammond, Wilde Lake and one of the biggest victories of the year, a 1-0 overtime triumph over Reservoir in the final game of the season.
The Lightning were led by captains Valarie Haney, Britany Weaver, Katie Brand and Sarah Ngo, who set great examples for their team, communicating well and fighting until the last second of each game.
Sakina Marvi was a standout in net and was a crucial part to the Lightning's success. Freshman Leah McClelland was also a big key, as the first-year player grew as the season went on and motivated her teammates.
Mt. Hebron started the year with a huge victory over Reservoir, where four different players scored a goal. Sophie Freedman led the team with four goals and tied teammate Lindsay Connell with two assists on the day. Georgia Ryan, Gracie Hamman and Kaylee Triplett combined for several key defensive stops. Freshman Hailey Conklin had a solid season in net, racking up over 60 saves this season for the Vikings.
Mt. Hebron ended the year 2-5 in county play.
Reservoir went 2-8 overall but improved throughout and ended the season with a win over Hammond. The Gators came together well and had multiple players score goals.
Jordan Rossip had a great season for Reservoir, communicating well on defense and created strong drives, coupled with great field awareness to help transition the ball out of the defensive end. Emily Herberholz was one of the best on the Gators midfield line, showing great stick skills and the ability to play anywhere, but her biggest asset was her leadership on and off the field.
It was a successful season for River Hill, which went 9-1-1 overall and 8-1-1 in the county.
Offensively the Hawks were led by sophomores Kaylin Pham (12 goals), Ada Beams (two goals, three assists), Emily Masker (two goals, two assists) and Abby Bae (three goals, one assist). Freshmen Ashlee Buscher (10 goals, one assist) and Sara Sharp (one goal, one assist) also stepped up to lead the team on the front line.
Defensive leaders include sophomores Erin Jeffery, Kate Essman, Delanie Vintz and goalkeeper Arden Perry, who finished the year with 42 saves and only allowed goals in two games and six total.
River Hill earned wins over tough opponents like Centennial, Atholton, Mt. Hebron and Marriotts Ridge. The Hawks ended their season with another solid victory, defeating Bel Air in overtime, thanks to Bae's game-winner off a corner.
"These games are always very close and this year the girls really stepped up their play and worked together as a team over the entire field," said River Hill coach Marni Rosenbaum. "This was a great group of girls to work with and they came to play hard and learned a lot throughout the season. One of the things I enjoy most about coaching JV field hockey is seeing their growth from the beginning of the season to the end."
Wilde Lake had a successful rebuilding season, as many first-year players learned the game and each of the 13 players on the roster experienced success throughout the season. Captains Kasey Baird and freshman Zoe Reading led the Wildecats this season.
"Their energy and enthusiasm carried them through some difficult games," said Wilde Lake coach Nancy Stefan. "They played each day with a won't quit attitude."
Atholton was competitive in every game this fall on the way to achieving a 4-3-4 overall record. Among the highlights was earning a tie against eventual JV county-champion River Hill and becoming the first team to score on the Hawks on the season. The team also closed its season by outscoring its final two opponents 8-1.
"The team was a wonderfully skilled group of young men, probably the most skilled team I have coached in my five years as head coach," said coach Jeff Bloom. "The team displayed good sportsmanship, a winning attitude and dedication to their craft that was far beyond their age and experience."
Freshmen Brian Tarantino and Michael Altamirano were the co-leaders in scoring with four goals apiece. Sophomore Sam Johnson, who took many of the team's free kicks and set pieces, and sophomore Devin Moon were both leaders in the midfielder. Moon ended the season contributing two goals and four assists.
After an early setback in a loss to River Hill, Centennial closed the season with nine consecutive victories and finished with 10 wins overall. Sophomore captains Dmitri Ahladiotis, Connor Bossom, Jon Bossom and Zach Haskins led the way, but the team also had great contributions from a talented freshmen group.
Led by Jon Bossom in goal, the Eagles' defense posted eight shutouts and never allowed multiple goals in any game. Leadership from sophomores Steven Chai and Andrew Ji, along with tough play from freshmen Zach Grable, Toby Moser and Kieran Senisi, all contributed to the team's strong defense.
On offense there were 10 players that scored at least one goal, combining to score a county-best 28 goals overall. Sophomore Brian Bang finished with a team-high 16 assists, while freshman Elliott Keppler was perfect on penalty kicks. Ahladiotis and Haskins each had golden goals to clinch overtime victories.
Glenelg finished with a losing record (3-6-1 county, 3-6-2 overall), but the success of the team wasn't only measured by wins and losses. "We had great team spirit and unity, and always left everything on the field," coach Kyle Chick said.
Chick added that the team's character was on full display during a tough 1-0 overtime loss to Centennial.
"We received a red card early in the first half, and suffered three game-ending injuries throughout the contest, but fought with a depleted bench and were extremely close to getting a result," Chick said.
Sophomore goalies Aden Boyer and Fouad Saiedy helped lead the defense. Sophomore defenders Seiba Rizk, A.J. Banas, Jake Towle, along with freshmen Matt Sturtevant and Joey Bruzek, helped the team secure four shutouts and four other games with just one goal allowed.
Sophomores Jacob Kersh, Cole Iannarino and Hassan Malik, along with freshmen Michael Peirce, Cole Miller and Kyle Anderson, helped lead an offense that scored four goals in two different games this fall. Peirce finished the season with three goals and two assists.
Hammond finished with a 2-10 record, although the team did have its share of highlights. Among the top moments was a close win over Oakland Mills during the second half of the year.
"Winning a game 1-0, when we scored fairly early, was a real grinder for us," coach Curtis Bullock said. "The kids could not have been happier to shake off the losing streak."
Michael Applegate returned as a captain in his sophomore year, making a huge leap from being a defensive substitute to being a leader at center back. He played nearly every minute this fall.
On attack, Jeffrey Mejia-Marroquin grew as a player as the year progressed, developing a great deal of mental toughness and grit to go along with his high skill level.
Howard was one of the county's top teams this season, finishing with a record of 9-1-4 overall and 8-1-2 in county play.
The team, which was made up of nine sophomores and 13 freshmen, was coming off an undefeated season in 2015 and backed that up this fall. The team scored 28 goals overall, while only allowing six — three against county opponents.
"We played on an even keel throughout the year," coach Jamie Alzin said. "We got the steady improvement we hoped for from our boys as the season progressed and it showed in our overall record. It was another good season."
Sophomores Tyler Prevost (six goals, two assists), Sammy Hwang (three goals, assist), Carter Chambers, along with freshmen Chris Sharkey and Will Drnack, led the defense. Sharkey's long throws were a huge weapon and provide lots of chances to score in the attacking third. Freshmen goalies Justin Kramer and Colin Sutch combined for 10 shutouts.
Brothers Andy Schon (goal, 2 assists) and Matt Schon (goal), along with Connor Stanton (three goals, three assists), were the leaders in the midfield. On offense, Kyle Harris led the team with nine goals.
Marriotts Ridge put together a standout season, finishing with a 9-1-2 overall record.
The team's depth was its strongest attribute, led by captains Jack Liparani, Chris Mavronicolas, Mark Antico and Kevin Hermstein. Strikers Will Deitemyer and Nolan Dyer led the team in scoring, while Liparani provided a number of assists. Ji Seok Kim was an energetic striker supporting the attack, as were Yoshihiro Saito, Will Lee, Victor Lee, Daniel Wie and Spencer Citro.
Hermstein and Brendan Hood controlled the midfield, supported on the flanks by Mavronicolas and Liparani. LJ Strum, Jack Kumor, Dhruz Patel, Joe Neaman, Justin Woodbury and Adam Orcutt all contributed to the midfield unit as well.
David George was a rock at stopper, with freshman Ethan Bohn holding things down at sweeper. Mark Antico and Brandon Held took care of the left and ride side in the back. Hammad Baquai and Malcolm Ostrander provided support for the back line, while Tim Lee served as the Mustangs' lone goalie. Lee allowed only four goals against him all year.
Among the highlights was a come-from-behind win against Howard where Kevin Hermstein scored the game-winning goal with five minutes left.
Led by a great mix of talent all over the field, Mt. Hebron finished with a record of 7-3-1 in county play and 8-3-1 overall.
Chris VanderVat was the team's leading scorer, while Luke Baldwin chipped in offensively as well. Baldwin even had one game where he registered a hat trick.
Eric Yang and Neil Fyock controlled things in the midfield, while Zach Eldridge was a top defender and Danny Herlihy led from his goalie position.
Coach Jared Ettinger said the team's win over Marriotts Ridge stood out in particular in a season filled with great victories.
"We played our most complete game, earning a 1-0 victory," Ettinger said.
With 12 freshmen and 12 sophomores on its roster, Oakland Mills had a fairly young team and finished the year with a 0-9-3 record.
Daniel Massillon and Degly Quel served as the captains. Those two, along with Moulaye Seck, Dillon Bickhart and Darian Salinas, were called up to the varsity squad for the postseason.
Salinas, Bickhart, Edwin Vasquez and Melquiel Beltran were the team's leading scorers on the year, while Amari Jangha and Azish Malik were some of the key players on defense.
The team's three ties came against Reservoir, Wilde Lake and Glenelg. Against Wilde Lake, Seck assisted Salinas for the Scorpions' first goal of the season. Then, against Glenelg, Bickhart scored off an assist from Alex Steadman in the team's last game of the season.
With a young team that featured 15 freshmen and nine sophomores, Reservoir finished with a record of 4-5-2.
The Gators were built around a strong group of returning sophomores, including Chase King, Blake Marks, Sharif Youssef and goalie Andre Jobst. Great support came from midfielders Ian Adamczyk, Emiliano Romualdo and Kirin Kambon.
Freshmen defenders Jacob Uwimana and Ethan Dixon were starters that played with the intensity and determination well beyond their age. Midfielders Michael Gonzales and Andres Martinez aided an offense that saw forwards Tony Nieto and Ali Rajabi each score four goals to finish among the team leaders. Other strong offensive players were Blake Cosner and Trevor Kerr.
"This was a strong development year for our team this season," coach David Freeman said. "Our sophomores are eager and ready to compete at the varsity level and our freshmen have had a taste of high school soccer."
River Hill finished as the top county team with a record of 8-0-3 (9-0-3) and ended up securing nine shutouts in 12 games. The Hawks, which scored 27 goals and gave up only three, now have a 19-game unbeaten streak going back to the 2015 season.
Sophomores Adam Chen, Will Tarpine, Dylan Uecker and Josh Weingrad, along with freshman Neabir Jahangir, made up a starting defensive unit that served as the team's backbone.
Freshman Casey Finkelston played almost every minute of every game in the midfield and was pulled up to varsity for the playoffs. Sophomore Aashish Balani was also called up to varsity at the end of the year after showcasing great vision and a great shot as a midfielder.
Freshman Jeff Fuentes finished as River Hill's leading scorer with nine goals.
There were lots of highlights throughout the season, but an overtime victory over Centennial was right at the top of the list. After holding tough defensively during regulation, the team had freshman center forward Julian Elguera head home a cross to the far post for the game-winning score.
Wilde Lake started strong with a win against Hammond and, although the Wildecats finished with a 2-1-9 record, there were lots of highlights throughout the year.
In that victory against Hammond, Daniel and Thomas Brinkley each contributed a pair of goals. Unfortunately in that game, sophomore captain Adeoluwa Adeyemo suffered a season-ending injury while saving a potential goal.
Daniel Yeboah was the team's other sophomore captain and helped the squad fight through injuries, along with players like Emerson Adams, Gabriel Viteri, Chris Carey, Adam Blair, Cole Simmons and Geoffrey Lecky.
"Leaders such as Lucas Rosetti, Elyjah Lee and Geoffrey Lecky stepped up by scoring goals, making key passes, strengthening our back line and committing to finishing the season with integrity and not giving up no matter the score," coach Bryan Ringgold said.
First-year goalie Ben Hobby made his presence known in both practices and games, providing an anchor for the defense. Sophomores Oscar Sermano, Brandon Shugold and Felix Olszeki were all strong defenders in front of Hobby.
Freshmen Jose Pintor, Godswill Enommana, Sam Nason and Zion Olibis all showed large amounts of growth as the season progressed.
Howard County Championship B races (Oct. 26 at Centennial High School)
Boys team results: 1. Howard, 19; 2. River Hill, 56; 3. Mt. Hebron, 84; 4. Centennial, 127; 5. Reservoir, 130; 6. Marriotts Ridge, 180; 7. Oakland Mills, 205; 8. Atholton, 245; 9. Glenelg, 281; 10. Long Reach, 313.
Top boys individuals: 1. Zach Allen, Ho, 17:08.12; 2. Jacob Ververs, MH, 17:19.47; 3. Collin Hawkins, Ho, 17:22.38; 4. Jovani Sierra, Ho, 17:27.07; 5. Rory Costello, Ho, 17:30.82; 6. Cole Partridge, Ho, 17:31.20; 7. Kevin Ling, Ho, 17:33.54; 8. Vivek Nadimpalli, RH, 17:35.05; 9. Zach Olivier, Ho, 17:35.05; 10. Thomas Maloney, RH, 17:36.41.
11. Ryan Skochinski, RH, 17:36.66; 12. Ethan Williamson, Ho, 17:37.00; 13. Chris Reckner, Re, 17:37.30; 14. Ryan Rose, RH, 17:37.87; 15. Evan Ying, RH, 17:38.08; 16. Justin Argauer, RH, 17:38.25; 17. Justin Ziegler, C, 17:46.25; 18. Bryce Kampert, MH, 17:46.64; 19. Daniel Taylor, Ho, 17:47.24; 20. Stewy Slocum, Ho, 17:47.44.
Girls team results: 1. River Hill, 32; 2. Mt. Hebron, 65; 3. Centennial, 83; 4. Marriotts Ridge, 85; 5. Atholton, 162; 6. Howard, 162; 7. Glenelg, 168; 8. Reservoir, 182.
Top girls individuals: 1. Kennedy Clark, RH, 20:32.70; 2. Anna Selbrede, RH, 21:08.32; 3. Amanda Levey, MR, 21:10.48; 4. Madison Wright, MH, 21:12.30; 5. Ashley Wilhelm, MR, 21:34.24; 6. Ajith Apoorva, C, 21:39.12; 7. Alexis Shumate, G, 21:39.34; 8. Janie Cai, RH, 21:53. 98; 9. Marisa Thomas, C, 21:55.55; 10. Ayaka Ohara, RH, 21:58.06.